DeliverabilityList management

Spam Complaints – What’s the deal?

By March 25, 2019 No Comments

Why are spam complaints so important?

Complaints that we receive through our FBLs (feedback loops) show up as “Spam” in our product. While they may not be labeled “Spam” in your eyes, they are in the recipient’s and theirs is all that matters, theirs is all the ISPs see, and it is the ISPs that hold the key to your campaign’s success.

Your “Spam Rate” is a vital part of determining your recipients’ reaction to the email you just sent them.

If you don’t keep track of your complaint rate, or have had no FBL system in place that allows you to remove these addresses, your initial campaigns with us could be of concern (even “confirmed” opt-in lists that are sent to daily).

There are many reasons for a recipient to complain:

  • they did not sign up to receive your email willingly
  • they do not recognize the sender
  • they did not sign up at all and the list you are using is purchased and/or ‘harvested’ off the internet
  • they have already unsubscribed but kept receiving emails anyway

Obviously when it comes to complaints, some of them are open to interpretation, but we account for matters that are beyond your control (and so do the ISPs).

Here are the complaints limits we expect:

Complaints should not exceed 0.10%
Hard bounces should not exceed 5%
Unsubscribes should not exceed 1%

It is important for you to know that we have not imposed these thresholds – these are limits enforced by the ISPs (and we indicate when you have surpassed the limits within Cakemail). If you go over these thresholds when you’re sending campaigns, emails will get sent to ‘Junk’ or blocked.

If you  go over these thresholds on a consistent basis, emails from your entire account could be blocked. Naturally if this were to happen it would jeopardize your relationship with Cakemail, as well as with the ISPs that impose these thresholds. Obviously, one of the things we work hard at is preventing situations like this. I would certainly be worried if any ESP that did not relay this kind of information to you and your customers. If anything, it shows the determination we have in ensuring the relationship between Cakemail and our clients is as long and remains as profitable as possible.

Building a relationship with your customers is the best way to avoid generating a lot of complaints.

Here are some things you should be doing to avoid complaints:

  • Don’t purchase or rent lists
  • Send email to those who want it – after you have received a subscription request, send a confirmation email to that address which requires some affirmative action before adding that person to your contact list. Since only the true owner of that email address can respond, you will know that only the true owner has intended to subscribe. This will also remove any invalid addresses and help lower your hard bounce rate (another problem that affects your reputation). Without this process, you cannot be sure that the recipient requested your email.
  • Don’t sign people up automatically and don’t hide behind a Privacy Policy that no one reads.
  • Have people sign up voluntarily and keep those check boxes empty so they have to check it themselves. If the box to sign up is checked by default, your list is actually ‘opt-out’ not ‘opt-in’.
  • Honor the scope and frequency of your sign up process and don’t send them content or bombard them with emails they didn’t sign up for.
  • Explain why they are receiving your email and make it as easy to unsubscribe as it was to sign up.
  • Use a consistent FROM Name and FROM email address
  • Make your subject line as clear as possible; people should know who you are, what your email is about and why they are receiving it without even having to open it.

If you follow these steps, your reputation as a sender will go up and your email marketing efforts will be a success!

For more information on FBLs, please visit:

CakeMail Knowledgebase : What is a feedback loop?
Dealing with account suspension


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Author Kevin Huxham

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